Slot Volatility Explained – High Varience vs Low Varience Slots

Online Slots Volatility Guide

Volatility and variance are terms that are used to label games within the slot machine world. It is very usual for new players to join an online casino, yet never actually understand what these terms mean when they play online slot games. For new players that really want to get serious with this fun pastime, we would definitely suggest that you carry on reading our article.

The reason being is, we bring together all the most important information that you actually need to know. Understanding the finer details when it comes to slot machines and variance is essential, so you have no reason to turn away!

What do variance and volatility mean when you play an online slot?

Slot machines showcase different styles and payout potentials. For this reason, you will always see the terms high variance, low variance, medium volatility, etc. being mentioned throughout the slot machine game halls. Did you know that these labels actually help you predict and strategies whether a slot machine will payout in large amounts or not? Yes! These terms can really help you put together your bankroll accordingly and therefore you will be able to put on the best performance of your life when you do play online slot games!

The variance given to any slot game will really allow you to gauge the extent of any winning combinations that you could possibly make. In addition to this, the frequency of pay that you could expect when playing. Now, do you see why understanding between low variance games and high variance, is important? It's definitely not something you should turn your back on, as many online slot players will find it does come back to haunt them, believe it or not.

When a slot does not give you frequent payouts, you will come to understand that it has the potential to give you much larger payouts in the end, if you manage to win of course. But this behaviour of a slot machine is what we call a high variance slot, or a high volatility slot game. If the behaviour of the slot game is quite the opposite and you find yourself hitting winning combinations, left, right and centre, you are playing a low variance game!  The payouts for this kind of slot will be much smaller in size, yet you will find the slot machine will award you that more often in your game time on the online slots site.

You will find that these terms are prevalent to both the online casinos and the land-based casinos. Do not worry! You will not need to learn different terms for both of your casino settings. Thankfully everything is pretty much the same when it comes to labelling the characteristics of an online casino game.

We cannot stress to you, however, how you should distinguish between the two. It would be disastrous if you happen to play a slot game with maximum bets, yet the game is of high variance, you will much less likely get a return of your wagers in the process. Meaning it can put you in quite a pickle as, if you knew previously, you definitely would have been more strategic about it all, right?

What are the differences between volatility and variance on a slot machine?

So, just to confirm, slot variance and volatility is very much the same thing. If you play a high variance slots game, you are playing a high volatility slots game too!

If you want to be really picky between both of the terms, the variance is of course used within the realm of mathematics and statistics and for that reason, you will often use variance within classical table games such as poker instead.  As variance explained means the highlighting of deviation from any expected tendencies/predictions. This is why slot games have the term RTP, as this will give you the theoretical percentage that you will win a certain amount of cashback from any of your wagers you make.

The variance indicates the number of times the slot spins will differ from each other each time you turn those reels, over a selected short period of time. For that reason, casinos will tend to prefer to select the use of the word volatility instead. However, some still may use it. Suppose it depends on the casino in question really, of whether they use the term or not!

Something worth mentioning too is, Volatility actually is used to evaluate the behaviour of numbers and the performance-this term is nearly always used in relation to gameplay, so in our heads, we suppose volatility makes much more sense to use? Of course, you should know both, as every casino is their own; you should be prepared to deal with everything that the casino brings your way.

So just as a quick summary, the main differences between high volatility/ high variance slots and  low volatility/low variance slots are:

High Variance/Volatility:

  • You can expect bigger wins for yourself when you play. These slots are the kind that gives hundreds of thousands for their main fixed jackpot for example.
  • The winning combination frequency is very much lessened and you will find yourself with fewer winnings over a theoretical longer period of playing.
  • The risk is greater, but the winning potential that you can get from it is sometimes so much more worth it!

Low Variance/Volatility:

  • Low variance brings together quite the opposite, meaning you will have much smaller wins for yourself, over the period of time that you play.
  • The wins are much more frequent per spin and round, meaning you can expect more from your slot gameplay.
  • The RTP used to label the games is much more accurate for lower variance games, as the wins are much more frequent.
  • When you play, your bankroll will last for a longer period of time as there is less risk in the process of playing.

How do you find out if a slot is high volatility or low volatility?

Of course, to know the variance of the slot, you would need to take into account the RNG that is integrated within the casino games. Slot variance on UK slot sites will never share with its players how the RNG actually works, so you can forget about that! However, how the casino sites manage to work it out, depends on the measurements they take. This involves measuring over 100 spins of the slot games and essentially all the individual spins will be equated into an average. You could do this two if you take into account a free play demo version. You will not be at risk (money-wise), but you will be able to play hundreds of spins and come to a conclusion if the slot machine is of high volatility, low volatility, or somewhere in between!

The pay table is another area that you can focus on to get more clues on the attitude of the casino slot game. By looking at the jackpot amount and values, you will need to pay attention to the changes between the 4th and 5th symbols and their combinations. Always make sure to take notice of the highest wins and compare it. If it’s more than 40 times the value, then you know the game is medium variance or in between medium and high.  A high jackpot is always the best indicator for volatility-so take not and keep yourself in the loop always!

What are the best high variance slot machines?

So, if you are a high roller and into spending the big bucks, usually playing high variance games definitely tickles the fancy of many.  Yes, they tend to bring in the most risk in terms of putting your cash into the stakes, however if you do get it right, you will find yourself with the most wins and rewards, as high variance slots always give out huge payouts.

When you play high variance games, you must always remember that hitting the odds of a win will always be less and therefore your adrenaline will be pumping non stop, that is a promise. So, do not be getting comfy with the idea that you can hit some frequent payouts, as that is not likely at all. If you are not hitting any of the lucky combinations in a high variance slot, things can get kind of dull, very quickly, meaning you will need to be patient as you play.

Do always look into setting a limit on how much you spend, when it comes to playing a high variance slot game. When it comes to playing them, and being in the full momentum of gameplay, getting caught up in it all, can be really chaotic but also make you spend more-without you even realising it! High volatility slot machines are always known for really stretching players thin, when it comes to their budgets and cash they wish to spend. For this reason, do make sure to keep an eye over things. Never spend what you cannot really afford to lose-as tempting as it always may be!

High variance slot machines titles

The best high variance titles for the current moment includes all the best software developers that are very hot and in right now. Microgaming, Playtech, NetEnt and IGT are some of the highly mentioned within the gambling community. Combined, these bad boys have the most to offer and collectively they boast hundreds and hundreds of slot game options that you can play. Within this list below, we have decided to put together some of the best slot games to play, that all equally are of high variance; something to definitely be keeping you on your toes as you play on online casino sites! We also do not want to forget to mention how these slots are all of the classical video slot styles, meaning you will be playing a typical 5-reels 3-rows setup.

Playtech Games, High Variance Slots

Batman and Cat Woman Cash by Playtech

This game by Playtech brings together out two favourite marvel characters, Cat Woman and Batman. These two characters within the comic books have always really had a thing for each other, but in this slot game, they combine forces to help you get the cash you need to win! At a medium-high variance, slot value, this game certainly pays out better than your average high variance slots, so definitely something to get more comfortable within the long term, no? Also, the RTP is 95.99%, which puts it just under the average slot Return to Player percentage.

Age of the Gods by Playtech

This game brings together all our favourite characters from Greek mythology, so if you are into the gods and goddesses of the Greek empire, you have already hit gold with this game! This game has a jackpot, named after Greek mythology, and you can trigger it randomly during any spin of the game. Of course, being that the game is of medium-high variance, it may not be as easy as you think to get this, however, you could always play the demo version and see how many spins it takes for you to trigger it theoretically? Nevertheless, at a 95.02% RTP, this game is pulling just under the average RTP for most slot games. But with a medium to high variance, this can be expected really…

Gonzo ‘s Quest by NetEnt

This slot game is one of the best you can play, in our opinion. Who has not heard of the magical Gonzo’s Quest slot game? At a top favourite, you can be sure to find this game feature in new slot sites casino, due to its high popularity and demand. Journey with Gonzo, across the Peruvian rainforests, to get your well and truly deserved treasures! At high volatility, this slot game will keep you on your toes as you try to trigger the game's fixed jackpot. Good luck!

Jack and the Beanstalk by NetEnt

Re-telling the most famous of fairy tales, this game brings you into the tale, where you can really experience the magical world that Jack actually ventured to, with his magic beans! This game is also a medium to high variance, like many on this list, however, it shares a higher RTP than most. At 96.30%, you will find this game shares exceptionally high slot volatility, despite the high variance status. Something to remember when you play this slot is to look into getting a deposit bonus to try out with it. Many of our list of the best casino sites, showcase some really amazing slot bonuses, free spins-you name it! Especially a free spin no deposit bonus too. They are the perfect bonuses to combine with this game. No doubt.

Mega Moolah by Microgaming

This game is one that does not need any introduction, that is for sure! Of course, it is one of the many slot machines with a high variance setting. Yet, the features like free spins and bonus spins, and multipliers in Mega Moolah, make everything seem far different from a typical high volatility game. Based on your typical African safari, the game does present a simplistic game theme. And yes, it does not necessarily give you the highest RTP to play with, does it? At 88.12%, this RTP is totally accounted for, due to the fact this game has four major jackpots to play with. One of which holds the highest paying jackpots of all time, at €18.9 million!

Immortal Romance by Microgaming

Last, in our high variance slot games, we have the Immortal Romance game, which is said to take inspiration from the Vampire Diaries TV series. Of course, being that it was not licensed to have the name as the game, Microgaming named it Immortal Romance instead. This game brings together everything we love when it comes to vampires. The sex appeal, mystery, and fear, all combined in one game! One thing that will come as quite exciting, is the combination of such a high variance game with an exceptionally high RTP. At 96.80%, this is probably one of the highest RTP's yet!

What are the best low variance slot games of all time?

Low variance slots are the kind of games that will keep your bankroll not looking like a disaster, meaning you can keep playing for the long haul, without worrying too much about the maintenance. Just like the high variance slot games above, these games will be just as entertaining, yet presenting smaller risk. Something we did mention above too is the idea that the RTP will always be closer to reality within low-medium slots. Of course, they are also known for having high RTP slot games too!

All the major developers that we have mentioned above, do also sip into the low-medium volatility range too, as they know what appeals to every different kind of new player. So, you definitely need not worry too much, about not having great options to play at a low variance level! Low-risk games do bring low reward, but over time that does count for more sometimes. As by the time you have made a win, in a high variance game, you may have actually lost much in the process, from your bankroll. So, low variance slot games are far safer to play – especially for beginners that have just started out on the slot scene.

Low variance slot machine titles

The Mummy by Playtech

Taking after the classic movies that released in the '90s and so on, this game brings together the spooky collated theme of the mummy underworld, alongside actually encountering a mummy within your reels. Sure, you would never think it is too scary, but let us tell you from experience, this slot is perfect for extra spooky vibes, just in time for Halloween!  At a low variance, you will not need to miss out on much to have fun here. Okay, the pay will not be exceptional, yet you can still win more than you put in! So, it is not too bad really, in our opinion! The only downside of this game is the RTP, it is considerably lower and that can be an issue to some players. At 92.02% it falls below the average. Nevertheless, good luck with the underworld!

Starburst by NetEnt

Bringing to you, yet another famous and well-known slot, Starburst has got the gambling community in a frenzy, right up until today! This game is legend and people never really have enough of it if we are honest. The galactic theme and magical symbols will definitely get you feeling lucky. Many players report frequent winnings with this game, especially since there are many wilds, free spins, multipliers, and much more added to your gaming experience. Definitely take out word for it, this 96.10% RTP slot game will be in your playlist permanently!

Jurassic Park, by Microgaming

This game takes after the classic movie series that hit the cinemas way back in the late '90s. Funnily enough, this game did not actually become released until the second movie sequel Jurassic World was out. Nevertheless, we would say that they timed it oh so perfectly, as the exposure and interest this game got was actually wild! In this slot, you can play with all your favourite dinosaurs, and of course, try and run away from the predatory carnivores that want to eat you too. Survival is imperative within this game, but hey, making wins is just as important too!

All about medium variance slots games

So, you have your low variance, you have your high volatility slots-but what about the level in between? The medium volatility slot game is one that does not pay out too frequently, nor not so often. It is right there in the middle! Hence why labelling it medium variance, seems very appropriate!

Often, the variance of a medium slot is determined, when after measuring the spins, it is really hard to distinguish between the high and low volatilities. So, giving it a medium label is therefore the most fitting! Medium slots are the ones that players find hard to adjust to and predict their accompanying bankrolls too, so for that reason, you often find even players with the most experience, tending to dodge it sometimes from playing. You can still get your occasional win, at an even quicker pace than you would in a high variance slot, so why avoid it altogether?

The best game examples that we would suggest to you, for that straight medium variance level, would be the Koi Princess or the Captain's treasure by NetEnt and Playtech. NetEnt has many medium variance games, just in case you are wondering where to go to find them.

Variance slot games and high RTP online slot games: What's the connection and difference?

So essentially the main connection between these is that they both indicate to you a degree of payment tendencies that the slot machine actually gives you. When you play slot games, you must always remember that RTP is measured theoretically, and in the long run of playing-as is variance. Remember when we mentioned that the slot games variance is measured through a long run of spins-everything is very theoretical and not a direct measure.

The difference between the variance and RTP however, although both used to measure winning potential, variance indicates the size of your winnings in the long haul of your gaming. So, you can adjust your bankroll according to this labelling of the slots.

You should always think that having both pieces of information are definitely helpful and very fitting for players, as you will be able to recognise great slots for you and your future potential gaming sessions.

High variance slots and low variance slots-what should you play?

What we would suggest for any player, wanting to play any slot game, in particular, is, always look back onto your current experience that you possess. If you are a newbie at things, definitely consider getting used to adapting yourself to the low-variance game instead, as you will be able to play at greater ease, in terms of your existing bankroll than slot games, high variance options. Of course, the big wins will not be so often within lower volatility titles, but there is less risk in games with small volatility. High volatility vs low volatility for new players is a huge gap and jump.

More experienced players would find that low variance slots can eventually get boring and less intense, especially with the payouts that they give. For this reason, we would highly suggest you slowly move on to medium variance games, then onto medium-high and finally high variance games. Doing this will allow you to adjust in the most sensible and wisest approach. You do not want to risk your cash recklessly, do you? Playing a few demo slot games would definitely not hurt either.

Frequently asked questions about high variance slot machines

What are the main differences between high volatility and low volatility?

The main difference between the two is the availability of winning potential. Yes, players can expect more frequent payouts on a low variance than a high variance. However, the payout will always be less than that provided in higher volatility.

How do you actually measure slot volatility?

To measure volatility (even though sometimes casino sites do actually give you the categorisation), you can play the free demo version of the title and spin over 100 times. For each spin, pay close attention to the payout variances and frequencies. If it is quite often, you know it is a low paying slot. If, however, it is quite rare and does not even occur within the 100 spins, you know you are edging towards a medium-high variance.

What are the best low volatility slots on the market currently?

The best low volatility slots that you can play currently include the game titles, Pyramid Quest for Immortality slot, Pink Elephants by Thunderkick slot, Book of Dead slot etc.


Hi, I'm James

"More than 5 years experience in the online gambling sector and 4 of them working with casinos. I'll share my thoughts relating to what you should be looking for in a casino and whether a site is worth your time and money."

Reviewer since June, 2020